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DANIEL WESTLING: Sweden's Princess Victoria To Marry Gym Owner (SLIDESHOW)

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STOCKHOLM — Sweden's future queen will marry her boyfriend next year, the royal court announced Tuesday, ending years of speculation.

The court announced the engagement of Crown Princess Victoria to Daniel Westling after informing government ministers Tuesday at Stockholm's waterfront royal palace.

The wedding will take place "in the early summer of 2010," the royal court said.

Swedish media flashed the announcement with bold headlines on their Web sites and the Scandinavian nation's major broadcasters reported the news live from outside the palace.

Victoria, 31, is first in line to succeed her father, King Carl XVI Gustaf, to the Swedish throne. She and Westling, a 35-year-old gym owner, became a couple in 2002. Wedding rumors have mounted since July last year, when Westling moved to the royal family's residence outside Stockholm.

The court said Westling would assume the title Prince Daniel, Duke of Vastergotland, after the wedding.

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In a televised address, Victoria said it would be easier for her to assume her future royal duties together with Westling.

"I feel safe with Daniel by my side," she said.

Westling said he would "do everything to deserve the trust of the Swedish people."

The king said he had given his consent to the marriage and requested the approval of the government, in line with Sweden's constitution.

"Obviously, it is a special day for us, but also a special day for Sweden," the monarch said. Queen Silvia added she fully backed Victoria's choice. "We welcome Daniel into our family with open arms," she said, describing her future son-in-law as "wise" and "full of energy."

The duties of Sweden's figurehead monarch, who has no political power, revolve mostly around representing the nation and receiving foreign dignitaries. He also hands out the prestigious Nobel Prizes every year.

Royal expert Jenny Alexandersson, who has reported on the crown princess for celebrity magazine Svensk Damtidning since 2003, said the wedding would be "fantastic" for Sweden, especially considering the current economic crisis.

"The fact that Sweden's heir to the throne will marry will give echoes around the world. It will be a great big wedding with more than 1,000 guests, including representatives from all big royal families," Alexandersson said.

She also said the wedding would be important for the Swedish monarchy.

"We have seen in our neighboring countries Norway and Denmark that the popularity of the monarchy has risen at times of royal weddings," she said.

Hundreds of people gather outside the Royal Palace in central Stockholm, where workers for tabloid Aftonbladet handed out balloons and T-shirts with Victoria's and Daniel's initials and the text "congratulations" in the blue and yellow colors of the Swedish flag.

Rita Kilstrom, 78, had been waiting for two hours outside the palace in the hope of catching a glimpse of the princess after the announcement.

"I think it is good, but I think they should have done it a long time ago," she said.

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Associated Press Writer Louise Nordstrom contributed to this report.

Around the Web

Daniel Westling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The definitive guide to - The Local

Daniel Westling Pictures - Daniel Westling Photo Gallery

Daniel Westling Pics - Daniel Westling Picture Gallery